Sunday, June 30, 2013


I was wondering why that tennis ball kept getting bigger and bigger*, said Micron.  Then it hit me.

In A Big Little Life** author Dean Koontz tells a story about his neighborhood walks with Trixie, a golden retriever CCI retiree that he and his wife adopted.

Spoiler alert: this book is awesome. Something that which inspires one to awe. The entire, splendid thing.

In this particular walking-the-dog tale***, we get an understanding of the deep appreciation Trixie had for tennis balls.  After the usual passage of tennis courts along their stroll, one evening Trixie is disappointed to not have found an abandoned tennis ball or two this time. It is her daily joy to discover a fuzzy yellow ball to roll around in her mouth on her way back home.  But on this evening, something else is different too.

Trixie balks on the leash. She stops and turns to look back at the tennis courts. Dean Koontz's wife, Gerda, is on the other end of the leash, wondering what is on her otherwise obedient dog's mind.  In Dean Koontz's words:

"Looking up at her mom, she opened her mouth and thrust her muzzle forward as though straining to produce a sound -- then spoke."
"This sound -- pronounced like the word awe with a b in front, slightly attenuated -- was so unlike anything that came from Trixie before, was delivered with such an earnest expression, and was accompanied by such tension in our girl's entire body . . .

Turns out, she realized there was a ball hidden under a bush and she needed permission to go back and get it. She merely hesitated, because Trixie was a good girl and not the kind of dog that *cough micron cough* will forcibly drag their hapless person across three tennis courts to retrieve a high value treat. And so it seemed to Gerda that Trixie's vocalization was an attempt to say exactly and simply what was on her mind.


Ok folks, that story, and the golden butterfly one that opens A Big Little Life kinda gives me chills just a little.  Whether fact or the fanciful stuff written by a prolific writer of fiction, we Lovers of All Things Dog are well experienced in the magic of the human-canine bond, aren't we?

Those of us so fortunate to spend our days with our dogs at our sides find ourselves somewhat bilingual with at least a basic level of Dog Speak.  We know to watch body language to determine if that yawn indicates a sleepy dog or a stressed one.  Or listen to specific vocalization as a clue to what our furry friend is thinking.

While lying around like a shedding carpet, a softly uttered moan indicates the mighty Micron is exhausted, but low groan is passive-aggressive communication that the big guy needs to use the lawn facilities. The latter requires him to actually get up and move, which I suspect is where the groaning comes in.  There ain't nobody as skilled in the art of Relaxation as the mighty Micron, you know.

Oh, but outside play time is a whole 'nuther animal, so to speak. Being a retriever, our Micron is hard-wired in the noggin to carry things about in his maw.  Of course, one should never expect this fellow to articulate a "Baw" to express his infatuation of tennis balls. But it is indeed clear when a game of Ball is on his mind. Micron keeps it easy for us.  He simply finds one of the dozens of tennis balls strewn about the house like little fuzzy landmines to roll an ankle on -- and brings it to you.

With a wide doggy smile and plumed tail waving like a flag, he drops the slightly damp ball upon a lap and takes a step back.  His thoughts are radio waves with one simple repeating message: throw the ball throw the ball throw the ball . . . .

And we do.  We throw the ball -- over and over. 

Noting the photo on the right, a ball in the mouth and second one to chase just might cause a short-circuit the canine neurons.  This situation, says Micron, blows my mind a little. I love them both so much.

Speaking of love, a friend with a new puppy was asking for advice the other day.  She has so much energy, says my good friend. And she chews on everything, even the furniture. What should I do?

Um, I say. Lookit, we all know I'm merely a Lover of Dog, not some kind of obedience expert. I have no more business giving this kind of advice than I do talking about tax laws. But in the Hippocratic spirit of "First, Do No Harm", I give it a shot.

Well, I say. Sounds to me like she's acting just like a normal puppy.  Good luck to ya. 

Ok, I realize that's helpful not at all. So I follow-up with the benefits of crate training, Bitter Apple, and professional obedience classes.

But in the meantime, I add, here's what will really help to bond you two. Simple things, really. Always be in the same room when your pup is eating and interact with her. Make sure she knows this wonderful experience comes from you. Give her a lot of positive attention when she's good, especially so during those rare quiet times.

And this is really important, I continue. Play with her. Exercise her. It will help her burn some of that destructive puppy energy and she'll eventually link these good times to your presence. It'll take time, but some day this dog will know you as the Best Thing Ever. And it will be her mission in life to please you. 

She'll want to play ball with you because she sees it makes you happy, too.

I'm confident with this bit of advice. I am.  Because it goes both ways, this playtime with my own dog. 

See, every time that Micron drops a ball into my lap and I look up from my book to meet his smiling, root-beer brown eyes, well . . .

That's the Best Thing Ever, says me.

*You see it, right?  The tennis ball?  Just follow Micron's line of sight to see it hovering there in the top part of the photo.

**A Big Little Life, a memoir of a joyful dog named Trixie by Dean Koontz.  This tome is a wonderful introduction to Trixie and her life with Dean and Gerda Koontz.  And the glorious Trixie has told her own story in such treasures as Bliss to You: Trixie's Guide to a Happy Life and I, Trixie, who is Dog.  There's a whole feel-good series of these things. I recommend the lot of them.

***This story is found in Chapter XIV Freedom of Speech

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: We're not fancy people

Jet skiing at Cedar Island. Sans the jet ski.
We're not fancy people with fancy things.  Hey, it's not like I completely reject the material life though.

We do so enjoy vacationing in a natural setting kinda venue and all. And I'd rather be in the quiet company of family and my beloved dogs than among throngs of tourists.

Micron says he can go either way. The big guy thrives on the attention of folk, because as he says, once someone rubs your belly they're no longer a stranger.

But our mighty Micron is also an appreciator of what nature can offer up. On the first Saturday of summer, we Ohioans were not surprised to find ourselves in the midst of a hot, humid afternoon. The dogs had placed themselves strategically about the house next to the air conditioner vents.  Wouldn't it be so nice if we lived near water, I said to the Husband. So Micron could go swimming again? Like he did on vacation last month?

But because we're not fancy people with fancy things, we did what we could for our water lovin' dog.

This, says Micron, is the best day ever!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Working like a . . . well, not really

Working like a . . . well, not really.

What do you mean by this word "irony"? asks Micron.  I'm a dog and this is how I spend the day in the office.  So yes, I actually am working like a dog, thank you.

'Cuz if I were working like a human bean, he continues, I'd be walking around being all blah blah how was your weekend and yadda yada where do you want to go for lunch today. Hey, don't think that it's not like I'm not busy here and not just goofing off.  Because I totally am, doncha know.

What? I say.  Are we doing Bilbo Baggins-speak now?*  If I were a dog, my head would be tilting to the right trying to understand what you just said.  Lookit, you're as flat a pork chop done on one side. Where's my spatula? Just lift your head up, willya?

Naw, I don't think so, says Micron. I already did that once today and I'm not into repeating myself again, because I already did that.

Well, at least his eyes are open for this photo. And to his credit, it does appear that Micron has the puppies under control.  He is sentinel of all that is yellow puppy.

Oh, you want to see a puppy, do you?  Well, you have to get past the mighty Micron. Wait. . . did I say get past? I meant trip over.

Friday was National Take Your Dog to Work Day, an event started in 1999 by Pet Sitters International.  Because my job in the pet food industry is really pretty freakin' awesome, every work day is one I celebrate with a dog, or two, by my feet. I'm a lucky chick, I am.

To mark this national celebration however, I took the shot above on Friday.  Yeah, yeah, cute dogs and all. But let's take a deeper look here, shall we?

In the far back and to the left is Kel, a CCI release and beloved pet. He is not a fan of puppies. Nope, not at all. This is as close as he was willing to come to the front, lest he get puppy cooties on him and require a hazmat decontamination.  Also, he's also not willing to stray far from his one true love, Mary Ann (not pictured, but she's right there).

And that's our E pups in front. Ever contrary, Euka has one paw outside the dog gate. Hey, Food Lady, says Euka with a smile. I'm on the other side [snicker]. 

Everett is in the middle and showing off his good-boy behavior. Who's a Good Boy?, asks Everett.  That's me!  I'm a Good Boy.  Euka looks at him with squinty eyes.  When Food Lady says Release, says Euka. I am so pouncing on your good boy noggin.

And on the right is Ella, who understands where her bread is buttered, so to speak.  She's expecting a cookie from me when this is done. I'm good for it and so she's lasered in with those come hither with a cookie eyes. Ella is a smart, obedient girl and how wonderful it would be, I think, that some of that goodness might rub off on Miss Euka.  But just like kids, it seems to be the bad influences that win out too much of the time. Poor, kind Everett should be anticipating to be a yellow puppy samwich when these two stinkers pounce him.

Oh, and that sign posted on the dog gate?  What does that say, you ask?  Well, it's there to remind folk to reward our CCI pups with positive attention only when they can show some self-control.** "Please don't pet us until we are sitting", says the sign. 

Ok, so we do have on tap more than yellow CCI dogs in some stage of early career development - or forced early retirement, like Kel and Micron.  Other co-workers have . . . what's the right word here?  Normal dogs? Pet dogs? Rescue dogs? Dogs not on a career path? I dunno, but Nahla is here to show you her ethereal beauty.  Nahla, just a young thing, isn't to the stay-here-while-I-take-your-picture stage of life yet.  It took me so long to set up this shot that even Micron got bored and left. 

However, I do want to draw your attention to Euka, who is still sticking that paw out of the gated area. With dead on eye contact, the little tart.

Why do you keep calling me Stay? My name's Nahla.

Micron's still waiting for a movie role

So if, as they say, everyone gets fifteen minutes of fame, we still have fourteen minutes and some change left.

The List, a program aired in the Cincinnati area, was in the office last week to get some footage of our pet-friendly workplace.  Before you watch the two-minute clip below, I want to you to know one thing.

I don't usually wear flip-flops to the office.

Even I, never a slave to fashion, have some thread-bare scraps of a value system regarding office attire. It's just that, well, before I left the house I kinda forgot to change out of my oh-so-comfy sandals and into the oppressive things I wear to look all respectable. And you know what else?  I had no idea about this filming until about thirty minutes before they showed up at my humble cube***.  I may, or may not, have reconsidered that blouse that is so colorful it appears to be shouting at you. [sigh]

But it's not about me, is it? This is, of course, a story about the dogs.  It's our friendly office canines that get the warmth of the spotlight in first minute of this video.

Watch for the mighty Micron, Euka II, Scarlet and Rhoda here.  Scarlet is the lovely pooch catching a treat from mid-air, Rhoda is the black lab getting some good air time with one of my co-workers.

As the camera pans from my obnoxious blouse to Euka in a Bed command under my desk, hit the pause to catch those rockin' Labrador flip flops. My only saving grace here is the pedicure is fresh (color: Paint My Moji-toes Red).

When the reporter is walking with a dog on leash, that's our Micron.  No, watch that again. I really need you to see this. Because he's walking on a loose leash with a person he just met. Micron is. Heh, who knew he could do that?  My sweet, impulsive Hodor dog.  I was right behind the camera guy lest my dog saw a favorite person**** and wanted to say Hi! because he would surely drag that slip of a nice lady down the aisle with him.  Oh, whoops, see his attention shift there for a second?  Yep, he sees Scarlet, who has the best toys ever.  But check it out, y'all. Micron holds that Heel position like a pro.  It's like he was trained to do this. For the last three years.

And do feel free to look away when Micron tries to slip tongue during that excited greeting with one of his favorites.***  That's a rather intimate moment, y'all.

Enjoy . . .

Every day is take your dog to work day

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).  Bilbo Baggins: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.

**An awkward and ambiguous sentence, that one. Exactly whose self-control am I referring to here - the dog's or the person's? [heh]

***You know what they say . . . clutter is a sign of genius.  I forgot who said that originally. I had it printed out somewhere, but lost it.

***You know who you are.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Caption This #10

Oh, Pool Boy, calls Euka. I'm still waiting for that Mojito.

Our sassy diva has that look of practiced impatience. Peering over the top of her stylin' shades, she is using her wiles to get others to do her bidding.

Or so it appears to me, anyway.

What d'ya think? Any photo caption ideas?  Drop your inspired thoughts in the comments, won't you?  And if you're a fellow blogger, be sure to put a link to your site in your comment.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Salty sea dogs

That is not our dog.
Nice doggie, I say, hoping that it's true. Then to the kid, let's put Euka back in the car.

Just a precautionary measure.  She seems docile enough though, this yellow dog.  She greeted us by barking an alert while we're outside the White Point Take Out awaiting on another awesome lunch by this humble little place. Our second visit to choose noshables at the take out on Cedar Island because once is not enough. We must have more of the local seafood goodness offered here.

But this is our first encounter with the big yellow lab, a gal who came over from a neighboring yard just to keep things honest.  A salty sea dog, she is.  No collar and, funny enough, no further interest in us once she planted herself by the take-out window.

This local eatery is no fast food joint, by the way.  It's the closest place to grab lunch within a fifteen mile radius on the island, but really we'd drive past any old Mickey Dee's just to score more crab cakes.  There's a wait once the order is in, so most folk we see just hang in their trucks until the deep fryer gives up the goods.  So we park ourselves and try to look less touristy by doing as the locals do.

Like the nice fisherman pictured here.  When he left his truck to pick up his lunch at the window, there was no yellow dog on the deck. While his back was turned, the golden girl moseyed up the steps and planted herself in a position of self-entitled comfort. Fishermen can have some quick reactions, it turns out. He turns to rush back to his truck, deftly stepping over the dog with seasoned sea legs. It was like a ballet. Kind of. But still pretty darn impressive. A lesser person *cough* me *cough* would result in 1. a face plant, 2. a broken something that's critical for gainful employment and 3. got free ride to the nearest medical facility.

She's between bath times, too. Once a year, whether she needs one or not.

While on the subject of salty dogs, y'all may be relieved to know that Micron finally got his beach time as promised.  Sure, it wasn't really planned since we just intended to let him out for a potty break, but the big goober just tossed his furry self into the briny deep and then pranced about in spasms of joy.  But once he was kinda wet, we figured that's the same as full canine saturation.

Might as well just let him have his way with the water. The dog that we nearly have to use a spatula to get off the floor, has found his passion.

He's like a flippin' canine jet ski out there.

Yep, that's a rooster tail.

Rising from the sea like he's Poseidon or something.

Anyone with a golden retriever knows full well what a dog smile looks like. For the rest of you, here ya go.
I ruvs you so much, Food Lady.
He's so ridiculously happy, it makes me feel bad about what's coming next. But at the same time, why is salt water the best thing ever, yet fresh water from the hose is boiling acid from the depths of hell itself? 

A complex combination of bribes and threats are the only thing keeping the big guy from bolting here. Lookit, I tested it myself.  The water pressure is fine and the water is actually warmer than the fish pee water in the bay.  It's like he doesn't want to smell clean or something. Huh.  Dogs.

It gets the hose again.*

An album with more photos of the Three Dog Vacation adventures are on the Raising a Super Dog Facebook page.  Feel free to drop a comment when you visit!

*The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Euka gets a helpful tip

A walk through our local grocery is a good socialization exercise for a puppy raiser and her charge. What with all the wafting aromas, large open spaces and wonky grocery carts, there's plenty of opportunity for a young pup to observe, process through the noggin, and finally accept this sensory load as simply normal stuff of the world.

We're waiting our turn in the checkout line when the fellow in front of us has received his change back from his purchase, slides out a buck and slips it into Euka's cape pocket. 

Aww.  I tell him Thank You, he nods and walks off with his bag o'goods.

From the first time I walked a pup in training through the grocery, I've noticed you can pretty much tell the dog people from everyone else. Facial expressions belie feelings much of the time.

We do love those who appreciate dogs. But these folk that understand what dogs can do for other people, well, they get it.

And they're my favorite kind of people.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Floundering in the rain

Hey Micron, says Euka, staring out the window. Explain this thing about human beans and water.

Whad'ya mean? asks Micron. He puts down his chew bone and walks over to see what the puppy's looking at.  Might be squirrels, you never know.

Well, I don't get it, says Euka.  Yesterday they went out in the big blue water bowl out there and were all laughy and stuff.  Then later they even sat inside that bubbly water bowl, the one that makes rumbly tummy noises.

Yeah, I saw 'em, says Micron. I'm still a little fluffed about not being allowed in. Right? Like, hello . . . water dogs and water. It's a natural thing. He glances over at Jager.  For some of us.

And it's not just the big water bowl thing, says Euka. I mean, just lookit out there. It's raining! I want go out and jump and roll around in the squishy smells. But they're all rushy about us doing our business and making us come right back in.  It's like they don't like water today.  But yesterday it was ok and  . . .

I know, says Micron. Sometimes it's hard to put a paw on what's going on inside those round heads. He pats the top of his own head. Since they're missing the Knot of Knowledge up there, some of their thoughts just kinda bounce around like a pea in a balloon. You know, like your ball with the bell inside? It never makes any sense either.

But I'm not too worried, he continues. Today's when they promised to take me down to the beach so I can carry wonderful things around in my mouth. Right, Food Lady? He looks at me with those root beer brown eyes and blinks.

Um, I say. Slight change of plans there, big guy.

Even I have a hard time reconciling why I don't mind the pool and the hot tub, but yet worry so much about my hair in the rain. But it's true, I don't really feel like a beach walk on this cool, rainy day.  I feel bad, though. After checking out the sights for the past couple of days with Miss Euka, we did promise the big yeller feller a special outing of his own today. 

Easy nuff, though. It's not hard to make this dog deliriously happy.  Sometimes just carrying a roll of paper towels around can get the Tail of Wondrous Beauty to wag of dance of joy.  Or a ride in the car can do the trick.

And . . . all is well in Micron's world.

But what about us human beans?  More than a little rain, this is a coastal weather phenomena that leaves one with the gut feeling that we're not gonna work on that tan any today.

As I peer out the front door in deep concentration, what to do for lunch, a critter catches my eye. My good eye, that is.  Bigger than a mouse, smaller than a bunny.  A compact dark body that seems to be clipping along at a decent, yet oddly clunky pace.

Is that a turtle? But it's so determined and more much agile than our Eastern Box Turtles back in Ohio. I run out with the Canon for a closer inspection and now the thing looks, well, kinda not alive anymore. Dang, nature's harsh out here in the Outer Banks. But I go all photo journalist on the situation and take photos anyway.  Its little stubby legs are splayed out, the snouty head is on on the ground with sightless eyes staring off to nowhere. 

The poor thing.  Did it just crawl out here with some last burst of energy? A turtle's last hurrah, so to speak.  He gathered up the last vestiges of terrapin grit and fury to pull himself out of the mud, so he could shake his little turtle fist at the sky and say I was here, world!

Huh, or is this guy just messing with me? A survival technique of the ages, the old playing 'possum ploy? So I touch the back of his shell with my big toe and . . .

Hey, now!

Do turtles growl? I think I heard a snarl or something. This fella has risen to his full height and with the chest span of a bull terrier is standing firm to challenge me. Yeah ok, I didn't see that coming. But even worse is the eye contact.
Bring it on, fool.
I will eat your soul, says the mud turtle. And your big toe's going down, too.

Dang, Mother Nature. That's some harsh stuff, girlfriend.

And so not to prove myself top of the food chain, but yeah maybe a little, we've scheduled a date with some local fisherman and it's time to check out what the tide brought in for these guys.

If the sea was willing, we had our hopes up to score us some fresh flounder. We talked earlier with Vince, a super nice guy, who comes from a long line of Southern Outer Banks fisherman in his family. And we met Aaron, Jr. who was at hand to take pity on these out-of-towners and mercifully clean said fresh flounder for us.

We don't have the tools to clean fish at the rental, was my claim. Could you help us out with that?

Aaron, Jr. will do that for ya, we're told. There's no one better, they say.  We select some fine flounder to fillet, which means Aaron the Third held up some fish and I said, yeah those look good. 

Can I be trusted to recognize a good flounder? No. The answer is no. The fish were big, flat, had both eyes on the same side of their head and weren't moving anymore. And that, to me, is Good Eatin' Flounder criteria. We are completely at the mercy of Aaron III. Who, it turns out, is a pretty decent guy, too.

I'm not kidding when I say the next hour was one of the top highlights of our week on Cedar Island.  We'll set you up with a mess of fish and a load of bullshit today, says Aaron, Jr. as he entertains us with yet another story in that distinct Southern Outer Banks dialect. Which is different on every island down here, we're told. The dialect, that is. Not sure about the bullshit, but it makes me happy believing that's unique, too.

In all the talking and scaling, we came out of there with the intended flounder, some spot and a couple of trout. And a bunch of blue crab claws. A list of sundry items, as recommended by professional fishermen, to get from the island's only convenience store was pretty handy to have for our impending fish fry and crab boil. 

Oh, is it still raining?  No matter, y'all.  We're pan frying fresh flounder served with a side of steamed crab. It's a good day here on Cedar Island.

We can do the beach another day.


More photos to this story and others from our Three Dog Vacation are in an album on the Raising a Super Dog Facebook page.  Click here to see more images of our adventures.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Another way to follow Raising a Super Dog

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

We're testing out a new option for following the dog blog, y'all.  With Google Reader riding off into the sunset, BlogLovin looks to be a handy way to keep up with your favorite blogs.

Take a look and let me know what you think.  Drop a comment of your experiences with BlogLovin and we all can be a little more educated in how to continue life without an RSS feed.

Follow on Bloglovin

Wordless Wednesday: Base Tan

I don't know, says Euka.  I've been in the sun all afternoon and just can't get past this base tan.

A furry reminder from Miss Euka to watch for the next installment of her tales of derring-do. Or what I refer to as our family vacation on Cedar Island. Coming soon.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Attack of the Ten Foot Sea Spider

Cedar Island - Day 1

Ow! I cry.  Gosh darn, it Micron!  You idjit!*

In Dog Training 101, one of the first bullet points to be emphasized is the need for consistency.  Our relationship with our dog is at its best when expectations are clear, right?. Like, Ok Miss Puppy Dog, you can jump on the sofa when invited. See, it's understood that a command is always given to provide this privilege.

But not so good is relying on vague understandings such as, Alrighty then Mister Spotted Dog, you can sit in my lap anytime you feel like, except when you smell like you rolled around in a rotting raccoon carcass. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Jager.

Let us out! We want to come back in again.
I'm fully aware of this canine mindset on Sunday evening as we settle down for our first overnight in the vacation rental. At home, the mighty Micron has full approval to be on our bed. Anytime and for any reason, no questions asked.  He's a beloved pet and we enjoy his company.

Two problems with the suite rental at Cedar Island, however.  The primary issue at hand is respecting the owner's request for no dogs on the bed and furniture.  That is difficult to explain to Micron. 

Here's your dog bed, I tell him, pointing to the fluffy mat on the floor. Sleep tight, don't let the bed fleas bite.**  The big dog lies down and relaxes.  All is well.

Until the crack of dawn shines through the curtains.

Hey Food Lady! Micron says. It's morning again! I LOVE new days, don't you? Hey, I need to go outside! Wake up wake up wake up!

And he jumps on the bed. This is the second of the two issues. It's different than our bed at home; sitting much higher*** and I'm in a different spot than the dog brain's Consistency Requirement allows to process.  This realization hits me like a brick as a baseball mitt paw lands right on me.

By right on me, I mean he smacks me right in the tender eyeball. Yowza. This seeing-stars experience is enhanced as he tries to gain purchase on me while sliding back off the bed.

At the bathroom mirror, I'm assessing the damage to the money maker**** with a surprising amount of vanity that I usually don't possess.

Are you ok? asks The Husband. 

I think so, I call back.  Just don't be wearing a stained sleeveless t-shirt today, cuz folk will think I sassed you real good last night.

That's not funny, he says.

It kinda is, I say.

And we begin Day One of vacation with dogs.

Pelican's Rest

We rolled into the Pelican's Rest vacation rental late on Sunday night, all of us road weary and exhausted from the long drive.  Cedar Island is rather remote, so more stars in the sky than street lights by the quiet roads.  I thought I saw water as we neared the suite, but couldn't be sure.  So, Monday morning I was ready to set my remaining eye on the local sights.

Drawing the line in the sand, so to speak. Jager will not get
any closer to the water. This is him being brave. He wants
you to know that.
This place is just one wonderful surprise after another.  The generous deck overlooks the bay, cool enough.  But even better is that it's gated so we can let the dogs roam and sun themselves without worrying about that random canine roaming that they are wont to do.

A large pool, a hot tub, a gas grill. Check, check and check. All private and just for us. And oh so quiet here. Laughing seagulls, lapping waves, the wind in the tops of the trees and some weird bird with a trill that sounds a little like an old fashioned ringing phone.

None of the golf carts of Myrtle Beach campgrounds or screaming kids. Or moms hollering for their kids. (A lingering memory of a campground is a love-lorn adolescent fella vigorously calling for his crush, Anastasia, in the deepest southern accent I've heard to date. That's a full three . . . second. . . name, now.) No, we just had that one chick here cursing at her big yellow dog, but was only for a minute or two and then it stopped.

The price of this sans tourist environment?  Well, the nearest grocery is about a half hour drive and it apparently took most of the restaurants with it.  We're gonna have to head out to get some basic essentials.  The island's convenience store nets us coffee, cereal and such miscellaneous and sundry items. And somehow we get out of there with about forty bucks hitting the credit card. So we decide to drive to neighboring Beaufort where rumor has it there's a Piggly Wiggly.

But lunch first 

We rely on the GPS to help us make the completely random decision of Snapperz Restaurant in Morehead City for lunch.

Euka poses by the custom mosaic fireplace at
The server is looking at me funny, I say. I know I'm just being sensitive about this I-walked-into-a-door shiner I'm sporting , but still. I can see her watching us from the bar, obviously wondering if she should offer up the wine menu or if perhaps it was a reckless affair with a mango margarita that brought me to this state in the first place.  I gotta come up with a better story than my dog stepped on my face.

We could get you an eyepatch, says My Favorite Kid. You could go with a pirate theme this week.

Say arrrr, says The Husband.

R, I say, not really feeling it. I need a parrot or a mojito or something. Although I'm kinda liking the eyepatch idea. That sounds just a little awesome. Yeah, I could growl my r's effectively with a macaw, an eyepatch and a mojito, I think. 

I dunno, maybe it requires rum.

But sadly none to be had this fine afternoon. So, later fortified with non-Yankee sweet tea, crab and shrimp cake burgers, all local seafood, we're ready to see what's what with this sea town of Morehead City.

Greeting a young admirer as we depart
the restaurant.

Attack of the 10 Foot Sea Spider

The Husband pulls into a parking lot near some piers.  Whatcha got in mind for this stop? I ask.  

You said you wanted a photo of Euka with the giant crab, he says. 

Heh. Did I actually say that out loud? I wonder. I've been working from home some lately and it has me concerned that I'm turning somewhat feral, talking to myself and all. So yeah, time to switch on the internal filter, girl.

It's true that I did want to introduce Euka to the giant Spider of the Sea, the inflatable version. We saw this eye-catching advertisement for an aquarium as we were driving to the restaurant earlier. This is a training opportunity, y'all -- The Novel Object Exposure.

I've seen dogs raise their hackles and bark at a trash bag stuck to a chain link fence. And step back when encountering a helium-filled balloon floating at their eye level. There are some unnatural things that don't make a clean process through a dog's instinct driven noggin.  A service pup in training needs some early exposure to help things along here.

This air infused bug is not only making an odd hissing sound brought on by the generator inflating the thing, but it's swaying in the wind as well.  Has Euka seen such a creature in her eight months of life?  Of course not.  I've been around a lot longer than her and I've never encountered a ten foot balloon crab either.

But we stroll to the sea monster like this is just another walk on a sunny day.  No hint of confrontation, just la-la-la normal stuff here. My Favorite Kid has the leash so I can observe and direct if the puppy neurons click to a fight or flight response.

Or if this is just another photo op to satisfy the Food Lady. Which is where we end up.  Euka barely gives the crab a sniff, can I chew on this?, and does a solid Sit between the slowly waving crab claws.

This event does not ruffle the courageous Euka one little bit. She's more interested in the onlookers at our photo shoot.  Two older gentlemen are waiting on the sidewalk for me to finish, like this is something that they see every day. I don't know, maybe they do around here.

And we take it one step further. Well done, little girl.

No prob. I can take this thing down.

Down by the water, I know there's an official seaworthy word for those things in the background sticking up from the pier. But I'm from landlocked Ohio and we don't have such fancy stuff.  But I do want to draw your attention to the fact that there's a seagull sitting atop each one.  And they're each of them watching the dog with ill intent.

Imagine thought balloons over them with "Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine." like in Finding Nemo.***** 

More salty dog adventures coming up. A stormy day, an enraged mud turtle, and I'm considering posting a photo of me on a horse. Still thinking that one through.

**A manner of speech, that.  Micron doesn't have fleas.
***I'm a tenuous five foot, three inches. Each night, I'm climbing into this behemoth bed in a manner reminiscent of a chubby Gollum scaling Mt. Doom.  It's not becoming.
****My face, the money maker.  Sarcasm, folks.
*****Finding Nemo (2003). The scene is pretty much like Seagulls: Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine. [repeatedlyNigel: Oh would you just shut up? You're rats with wings!



It was after writing this post, I recalled a dream I had that starred, for-real, a menacing giant crab. The fact that this dream occurred before vacation was more than a little interesting to me.  So per usual, I brought it up with my Psychology/Sociology double major college grad and favorite kid for evaluation.

I like to think that my vivid, and sometimes disturbing, dreams are filled to brimming with symbolism.  Elevators that are difficult to operate and never take me to my destination are obviously a clue that I should stop eating Chinese take-out so close to bedtime. But when consulting with my college grad, the usual response is something like That's really messed up, Ma.

But I try again. So I'm at a beach, I tell him. with a friend, but I don't remember who it was now. We're wading out of the water and back to the beach when the surf rises and a two-story tall slow-motion wave appears behind us. I look back and through the water I see a giant crab, not walking towards us, but being pushed by the water our way.

My friend and I start to run, but the giant crab reaches out a claw and grabs me.  The thing is pulling me towards his maw when I wake up.  I can still feel my fear even thinking about it now. What d'ya think it means?

I see your problem, Ma, he says.

Really, I say.  What?

You need slower friends, he says.

True story, y'all.
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